I was not one of those kids who was picked first on the playground nor was I the one who was picked last. Average performer…story of my life. I can distinctly recall, though, feeling a pit in my stomach watching those last two kids waiting to be picked – each hoping they wouldn’t be the last. And then the look of disappointment, rejection, and confidence drain from that last kid. Tough times on the playground. But I suppose it’s a good lesson for later in life. One can’t always be first, and sometimes you’ll be last.
Opportunities to invite, include, or exclude abound in the workplace. Whether it’s a conference call, a meeting, a business trip, a lunch, a dinner, or a boondoggle. Someone is always going to feel left out. Still happens to me – there’s a meeting going on right now with my executive peers in another city and I wasn’t invited. That’s cool, though. I understand why I’m not there and don’t expect someone to justify my absence. Yes, I’m a big boy now. None the less, I have some thoughts on inclusion in the workplace.
- You can’t include every one all the time. And it is nearly impossible to avoid bruised feelings.
- Too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the pot and the same applies to too many business people at the conference table.
- HOWEVER…when in doubt, over-include.
- If someone is excluded, take the time to debrief them off-line after it’s all over. That way they won’t feel like the “secret society” continues.
- If you’re the one excluded, let it go. If it eventually becomes a habit, talk with your boss (not your peers.) If it continues, start looking for another job.
- If you’re one of those included and you go out of your way to rub it someone else’s face and flaunt your attendance like you’re something special, get a grip…you’re nothing but an asshole. (My Mom taught me never to talk with other people about parties you were invited to unless those people tell you specifically that they were invited too).
The more I think about it, there are a lot of things we could learn from our days on the playground that would help us in the workplace. As it relates to inclusion, just try to be a bit more thoughtful about it.